Here we have a YA Fantasy, set in an imaginary society which is uncomfortably akin to ours but allows slavery. This leads to good thematic material, backed up by subtle and realistic mental conflict in both main characters. The slave is trying to be a good slave, while at the same time plotting to free his sister. The slave owner is trying to be a good owner, although he doesn’t believe in slavery. Angst abounds.
Slave ownership is the biggest part of the conflict, but the story deals with honesty and trust and other themes as well, including the general problem of bringing up a teenager, and an added level about the motivation of athletes. Another conflict deals with the idea that the person isn’t the job. A watch officer can be a human as well. The scene where the slave goes to work for the watch officer is a great revelation of an inner conflict that most of us will never experience.
There is perhaps a bit too much explanatory detail about weather and schedules and the like, but generally, the action moves along nicely.
This is a strong, well-written YA novel with clear action sequences, realistic inner struggles of sympathetic characters, and interesting themes.(5 / 5)